HC Deb 28 November 1906 vol 166 cc63-4
MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called, by Mr. Allison Wood, of Sunderland, Secretary to the British Shipmasters' and Officers' Protection Society, to the case of Mr. John Annison, of Sunderland, captain of the steamship "Shepperton," who was seriously assaulted at Sulina by two members of his crew, and that, on his appealing to the British consul at that place for redress, the latter stated that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter, basing such statement on a letter of instructions, dated 11th June, 1906, 1045M (official letter, No. 11,931); if so, would he state the contents of such letter and the justification for sending the same; and why no action was taken by the consul in accordance with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1904 (Section 480, and Part XIII., of the Act).


Yes, my attention has been called to the case to which my hon. friend refers. It appears that a dispute arose between the master of the "Shepperton" and two members of his crew whose wages he proposed to reduce, and in connection with this dispute one of the men assaulted the master on shore and in the presence only of local witnesses. The British Vice-Consul considered that the matter was one for the local authorities before whom he assisted the master to lay the case. The Board of Trade letter referred to in the question had no bearing on cases such as this and dealt with the question of the imprisonment of seaman pending trial. As regards the question of action under the Merchant Shipping Act, I think the Vice-Consul was justified in deciding that the assault did not require to be dealt with under Section 480. The case was not one of such gravity as to require Part XIII. of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, to be brought into operation, seeing that the case could be more conveniently dealt with by a local court.


Why did the consul refuse to take action?


He came to the conclusion it was a proper case for the local authorities.